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Archive for September, 2010

Priorities

September 28th, 2010 at 07:10 pm

So I posted yesterday about our unexpected financial gift from my inlaws and how I wasn't sure what to do with it.

I recently wrote down our upcoming irregular expenses for the next few months that have not been budgeted for and priortized them.

Income taxes was number 1, property taxes was number 2 and brakes for my car was number 3. There are more but not worth mentioning for this post.

Since we are getting a state tax refund but probably won't have it in time that the federal taxes are due I will "borrow" this money from the gift money and pay it back once we receive the state refund.

After that the money will go towards replacing the brakes on my car and any money left over will go to either our emergency fund or to the MasterCard.

Glad to have that worked out.

An unexpected gift

September 27th, 2010 at 07:43 pm

Well just when I was stressing over finances we seem to have been blessed. We were given an unexpected financial gift from my inlaws over the weekend that will help alleviate some of my stress. I'm blesssed to have such great inlaws, not just for this gift but they are great people and I really like them.

I sent an email to Safeway in my anger with them over a shopping trip last week. They responded with canned responses. All the more reason to not shop there anymore.

Spending over the weekend was more than I had planned. Lots of driving to soccer games and I was exhausted last night so we went out to dinner. Still though, we've been really good with not spending money so I'm trying to not feel too bad about our spending over the weekend. And I think I will come in under budget for a few categories so that will offset the money spent.

GRR!

September 24th, 2010 at 02:02 am

I'm so mad right now. I went to Safeway to pick up a few sale items and some fruit to go with dinner. I got a mini watermelon because the sign said they were on sale 2/$3.00.

Cereal was also on sale for $1.99. I had a $1.50/3 boxes Catalina coupon in addition to a $1.50/2 boxes manufacturer coupon.

While I am checking out I hand the coupons to the cashier and he tells me the register won't accept two coupons for the same items even though one was a Catalina and the other was a manufacturer coupon. Maybe they are the same??? Fine. Whatever.

Too make matters worse, when I got home that I saw that I was charged $3.99 for the watermelon.

I normally watch the prices of what I am buying but I was all flustered about the coupon problem and talking to the cashier that I didn't catch the overcharge.

This happens to me ALL the time at Safeway.

After dinner I had to go to Walgreens and since it's next door to Safeway I went in to check the sign for the mini watermelons to see if maybe I mis-read it. Well the sign wasn't there anymore. I asked the guy working in the produce dept how much they were and he mumbled something about the sign being wrong. He checks the price and tells me they are $3.99. I told him that earlier the sign said they were 2/$3 and he grumbled something about it being wrong and walked away.

I am fed up with Safeway. I swear they do this on purpose. In the grand scheme of things it's not a lot of money but part of it is the principle of it and part of it is I would never pay $4 for a mini watermelon. So yeah, it is about MY money.

Safeway, you've officially pissed me off and even though I'm a shareholder I'm not shopping there anymore.

GRR!

Baby steps

September 23rd, 2010 at 05:27 pm

Tuesday was a no spend day so yay for that.

Also on Tuesday I called Costco/Ameriprise to get a homeownerís insurance quote in hopes of consolidating our auto and homeowners insurance. Unfortunately they werenít able to provide a quote because we have a wood shake roof. Boo! And unfortunately we donít have $10,000 for a new roof so for now I will have to have separate auto and homeownerís policies.

Wednesday was ďa spend very little and get a lot of stuff dayĒ. I bought almost $22 worth of stuff at CVS and between coupons and Extra Care Bucks I paid about $6 out of pocket. I started CVSing this month and am finally getting the hang of it.

Iíd like to get to having more ďno spendĒ days then ďspend daysĒ each week.

Iíve been trying to form the habit of entering receipts into Quicken as we spend money and not waiting until my weekly appointment with myself to do that on Saturday nights. I also have been entering them into my Excel budget spreadsheet. Itís a little redundant but since Quickenís budgeting feature is so crappy I have to do this in order to stay on top of cash flow.

Still havenít transferred the cash out of checking yet although Iím getting more comfortable with doing it since Iím almost 100% sure that Iíve accounted for all expenses and have entered all receipts into Quicken.

Random thoughts

September 21st, 2010 at 04:41 pm

This is going to be random because I have a lot of financial things running around in my mind lately.

We thought my daughter broke her wrist Sunday evening. It wasn't swollen but she had some soreness and a lump. Yesterday morning the lump was gone but she still had tenderness. My husband took the day off and spent a lot of time waiting for her primary care doctor to provide a referral to an orthopedic doctor. We were eventually told she had to be seen by her primary care doc first before a referral could be given. We have really good insurance but the red tape we have to go through sometimes is so frustrating. Long story short is that she doesn't have a broken bone and we only spent $20 on the copay.

I've pretty much decided that I will cancel our trip to Vegas. Another couple has decided to go as well, (there would have been 3 couples if we went) so I don't feel as guilty backing out now. I'm going to call the hotel and see if we can get the $70ish deposit on the hotel refunded. This is a load off my shoulders although my husband isn't thrilled.

We filed an extension on our income taxes in April. My husband has been working on them and it's looking like we are going to owe on the federal portion, something like $900 I think is what he told me. We cannot get it any lower. We are getting about $360 back on the state but that still means we have to come up with the differene on the federal and I imagine there will be penalities and interest because this was due in April. I've never been in this situation before (owing taxes after 4/15) since we've always filed on time in the past.

I don't know where this money will come from. My huband lowered the number of deductions on his paycheck because of us owing income taxes but that means we will have less to budget with.

I've been tinkering with our budget and I think I've got it to where it needs to be. I was paid yesterday and my husband last Friday and my intention was to transfer the cash that was there prior to being paid to savings for our property tax bill. I'm scared to do that out of fear of not having a cushion in our checking account and me grossly overlooking something in our budget.

I've been working on the budget every night for the past week and I think I've accounted for everything but I'm still nervous to transfer the money.

In our 18 years of being married my husband and I have never needed to have a budget because we always paid our bills and saved. But now that we are faced with tuition expenses for the kids we are finding ourselves in a position of having to watch every dollar we spend and it sucks.

We make good money and I feel as if we should be able to buy ourselves stuff once in a while without having to consult a budget first.

Once we pay the car off next July and the Mastercard (hopefully within the next 12 months) we will be in a better position but until then I hate this.

An update to last weekend's plans:
I cancelled our gym membership.

I've decided to stay with our current internet/cable provider. I negotiated new rates in August and there isn't any company that can do as well without us having to pay out of pocket up front for equipment.

I never got around to calling about homeowner's insurance but I will this week.

Weekend finance plans

September 17th, 2010 at 08:10 pm

Iíve been working on a budget spreadsheet in Excel that I found on a personal finance blog. Actually it was a snapshot this womanís budget and I liked the format of it so much that I copied it. Itís arranged in a way that makes sense to me and hopefully itíll work, unlike the many budgets Iíve tried in the past. For the rest of the year, Iíve assigned our bills to paychecks, allocated money for our various savings categories and some discretionary spending (such as groceries, gas and household expenses) and there is hardly anything left. Iím not liking what I am seeing.

I think that after we are paid today and Monday, I will transfer to savings the remaining cash in our checking account that was there prior to us being paid. That money will go towards our property taxes and then regular savings transfers every pay period will give us the money we need in December when the first payment is due.

Iím afraid to transfer this money though because then I wonít have a cushion in our checking account. I need to review the numbers repeatedly this weekend to make sure I havenít missed anything.

If Iíve calculated and anticipated our expenses correctly, we should have a pretty decent surplus in October and November, thanks to those months being our extra paycheck months. Since I budget our savings off of 24 paychecks, our normal savings transfer will not happen for these two paychecks, leaving us with a surplus that will be applied to our MasterCard. I think I can pay almost 50% of the card balance with this money.

On tap for today and this weekend:
* Cancel gym membership - annual savings of $696
* Call around for new internet/cable providers
* Get homeownerís insurance estimate from Costco/Ameriprise
* More tweaking/reviewing of the budget. Husband is paid today (Friday) and I am paid on Monday so I want to transfer the surplus after my paycheck is deposited.
* Hopefully this will be a weekend of no spending except for groceries and gas.

Expenses and then some

September 16th, 2010 at 05:16 pm

So I've been compiling a list of anticipated expenses that we will have in the next few months:

Property Taxes
First payment is due in early December. I normally save incrementally for this with each paycheck but when the savings transfers aren't made, that's kind of not a good thing. I have some money saved but the balance is not what it should be.

Income Taxes
We filed an extension this year because I waited too long to find an accountant to file for us. As it stands now we are owing on the federal portion and getting a state refund but not enough to offset the federal. We are working on trying to get the federal lower.

Brakes on my car
$410 to have them done at the dealership. Iím going to call around and get quotes from mechanics elsewhere.

Christmas
Again, I normally save incrementally for this but the transfers to savings werenít always made.

Baseball
My son is going to try out for the baseball team at school. I have no idea what this will cost us if he makes it. I need to call the school and ask.

Vegas
We planned a trip to Vegas with friends. Airfare was free due to our Mastercard rewards. Hotel was pretty inexpensive. I just need to set aside cash for meals and a show. In hindsight I wish we hadnít agreed to go but nothing I can do about it now.

Braces
My son already has braces and my daughter has retainers. We were just told that she will need braces too Frown I plan on asking at their next appointment how much they will cost so we can update my husband's flexible spending account during open enrollment in November.

Glasses for me:
I got a new prescription and need new lenses only. I think I might try ordering through an online site like Glassesusa.com. I can get new frames and lenses for much less than I would pay for lenses alone at Lens Crafters.

So a lot of expenses, outside of our regular ones, and not a whole lot of extra cash leaves me wondering how we will pay for all of this.

October happens to be an extra paycheck month. I think I might use some of that money for our property taxes.

Trying this once again

September 15th, 2010 at 08:38 pm

Well I decided to come back. I wasn't even sure of this blog still existed. I'm finding a need to write my thoughts down regarding our finances since it's do or die.

We are a middle to upper middle class couple trying to survive living in expensive California with two kids in private schools and for the first time in my life, $7,000 in stupid credit debt.

I'm feeling stressed about upcoming expenses and blogging seems to be a good way for me to relieve some of that stress. Hopefully I'll stick with this. I've got a running blog too but it has been neglected of late due to just not having enough time to run and write entries in it.

I've struggled many times with finding a budget that worked for me. Somehow trying to allocate money to every conceivable category just didn't work for me. Too many unknowns with kids. Sports fee, birthdays, school related expenses etc etc and so I grew frustrated at my inability to budget and gave up.

Instead I logged all of our spending in Quicken, balanced our accounts and that was it.

Financially we were always ok but now that we are paying a lot of money in school tuition, I HAVE to find a system that works. There just isn't any more wiggle room unless I go to work full time and that isn't going to happen until my daughter is older.

I recently found a budget online and adapted it to what I think will work for me. It has sections for regular monthly bills, savings, discretionary spending and other expenses, those being the aforementioned sports, school, birthday etc expenses that come up throughout the month.

I've also allocated bills and savings to paychecks and basically what's left over, and there isn't much, is left for discretionary spending and other expenses.

I've set this up for September and hoping to start using the plan with our next pay period this week.

I've also started keeping notes about the other expenses that come up and will save them to my budget template so that each month all I have to do is copy the categories over and fill in the budget. Hopefully in a year I will have a rough idea about what to expect each month outside of our regular expenses.

In theory it works. Let's see how well I can keep up with it.